Back to School Shopping Tips for Families
Money-saving tips we can all use.
Don’t you just hate it when you find a “back to school” article in the middle of the summer? Well, that is exactly what we’re serving up here and for one good reason: a number of states have “tax-free weekends,” representing a chance for families to buy school items without the customary sales tax charge. Most states that have them begin offering tax-free weekends the first weekend in August, just as schools in southern states resume instruction.
1. Your weekend — Not every state has tax-free weekends with Family Frugal Fun among the websites identifying these dates by state. If your state is listed, plan to set aside time on that Friday, Saturday or Sunday to take in these sales. With sales tax abated, you can save 4 to 8 percent on many items, with some restrictions or limits of course.
2. End-of-summer sales — Summer clothing is typically marked down by July 4th and becomes more scarce as the summer winds down. Still, to coincide with tax-free weekends, many retailers clear out their remaining summer stock and will mark down some fall items too. In warmer climates, kids were summer clothes well into fall, thus families have an opportunity to save by shopping early. Choose retailers that offer what you want and do so at marked down prices.
3. Discounted school supplies — Major retailers sell school items for below cost, as a way to lure you into the other items they have on sale. Pencil packs for a dime, lined paper for a quarter and notebooks for a dollar. Stock up and save, setting aside enough money to buy what your children will need for the entire school year.
4. Pack a lunch — Much is being said about the quality of school food and that information is usually not positive. No wonder too — kids are often served pizza, sloppy joes, greasy chicken and other carbohydrate laden foods. Resolve this year to pack food yourself, giving your kids nutritional balance all year long. Buy new lunch boxes or thermo bags for each child as a way to “reward” their cooperation.
5. Stick to a list — Quite easily, you can go overboard on back to school items. However, if you make a list and stick to it, then you can get what your children need without busting your budget. Also consider trading with other parents in your Mom’s group at church. Gently worn clothing, binders in good shape and excess school supplies can be traded. Organize a day for everyone to get together — pitch in and move your unneeded inventory.
Many schools also provide detailed lists of what your children will need for the school year. Those lists are typically posted on school websites with some retailers printing them out and making them available to shoppers. Consider NOT buying some items until after school starts — you may find that certain things such as a personal computer or a tablet are not needed. Sales tax abatement can help you save money, but it can also prompt you to buy what you don’t need.